A Newcastle folk band with strong links to Teesside is set to record its first album, thanks to a bursary in memory of one of the North East’s most acclaimed songwriters.
The Rachel Hamer Band has been named as the latest recipient of the award made by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and the award winning band The Unthanks in memory of Middlesbrough songwriter Graeme Miles who died in 2013.
This is the second memorial bursary, worth £1,200, to be given. The scheme is administered by EFDSS and supported by The Unthanks through fundraising concerts.
A contemporary of Ewan MacColl, Graeme wrote his first song at the age of 14 and after hearing the traditional songs of Tyneside, set himself a 20-year task to create a collection for his adopted native Teesside.
He wrote hundreds of songs about the area, finding poetry and beauty in the industrial landscape of Middlesbrough and the surrounding Cleveland hills and dales.
“It feels good to give the award to an act fronted by a fine young singer brought up with the songs of the area, and who understands the legacy of Graeme Miles. An act may not always appreciate the name on an award, so long as the money helps them on their way, but I've no doubt The Rachel Hamer Band will feel honoured to receive an award in Graeme's name and be inspired to use it all the more brilliantly.”
Adrian McNally of The Unthanks
The young Newcastle based quartet will use the bursary to pay for studio time to record their first album.
“We are honoured and thrilled to be awarded the Graeme Miles Bursary. Graeme was a prolific songwriter and champion of North East folk music and we feel privileged to be a small part of his legacy.
“This award is invaluable to our development and we are excited about the award, our new album, and for what the future holds for us. The bursary is giving us the unique opportunity to pay for studio time to record our debut album.”
Rachel Hamer, speaking on behalf of The Rachel Hamer Band
Fronted by Rachel Hamer, whose family hails from Teesside, the band comprises of fiddle player, vocalist and clog dancer Grace Smith, guitarist and vocalist Graeme Armstrong, and Sam Partridge, a flautist and multi-instrumentalist, and is fast establishing itself as a major force on the traditional music scene in the UK.
“We had a very strong field of applicants for this bursary. The Rachel Hamer Band is an exciting and innovative group of musicians and we feel the award, at this moment in their musical development, will make a positive and significant difference to their future. We will be looking forward to hearing their first album.”
EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director Katy Spicer